Medical malpractice can occur for many reasons, but the underlying principle is that a medical professional’s negligence leads to providing substandard treatment that injures a patient.
You might think that medical malpractice is something that strictly happens on the operating table or when a doctor is writing a prescription, but it can occur during the consultation phase, well before any treatment or procedure ever takes place.
What Is Informed Consent?
In medical malpractice law, informed consent refers to the permission a patient gives to their doctor or another medical professional before undergoing a medical procedure or treatment.
A medical professional can only obtain informed consent by adequately informing the patient of the treatment or procedure and its risks. A doctor doesn’t obtain informed consent if a patient signals a misunderstanding or a lack of understanding of a proposed treatment and its risks.
Sometimes giving a patient enough time (if possible) to seek a second opinion and/or consider alternative options can provide a doctor with informed consent.
Why Is Informed Consent So Important?
Informed consent is important in medical malpractice claims because it ensures a patient is aware of the potential risks of medical treatment and any other options that may be available to them.
It allows patients to direct their course of treatment in a way that works for them, free from feeling pressured into something they don’t wish to occur or not being aware of what can occur. This is important in its own right, but especially if the patient has certain religious convictions or other values that may conflict with certain kinds of medical intervention.
If a patient doesn’t provide their informed consent to medical treatment and is harmed in any way by the treatment, the patient may have sufficient grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Does Signing a Document Provide Informed Consent?
Many doctors typically provide informed consent documents for patients to sign. Although these documents may thoroughly explain a treatment or procedure and its risks, patients who sign them don’t necessarily provide their informed consent – especially if the medical professional fails to verbally discuss the treatment or procedure with the patient.
Reasons, such as these, are why only signing an informed consent document may not be enough:
- The patient may be literate in another language
- The patient may not be literate, even if they speak in the language the document is written
- The patient may suffer from a learning disability
- The patient may lack the mental capacity to provide informed consent
- The patient may not fully understand what’s written in the manner it’s written
The reasons stated above can apply to almost anyone, particularly the last one. Not everyone knows the medical or legal jargon that might exist on an informed consent document, so providing informed consent should involve a discussion with your doctor.
Did Your Doctor Have Your Informed Consent?
If you believe you were injured due to medical treatment that lacked your informed consent, our personal injury attorneys at Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. can help. We are dedicated advocates for people like you, who were injured because their doctors failed to adequately inform them of medical treatments and procedures that carried certain risks.
If you want to discuss your legal options to pursue a recovery for damages, contact us online now and request a consultation.